Schizophrenia Gene Identified

Genetic clues point to schizophrenic disorder

(RxWiki News) Scientists have long tried to get a better understanding of schizophrenia, something that as many as 24 million people worldwide suffer from. A genetic test may identify if schizophrenia is in your future.

Schizophrenia is a mentally debilitating disorder characterized by delusions, disturbed thinking and lack of normal social behavior. At least half of them are not receiving appropriate care, and so finding clues that help identify the disorder could be vital.

"Contact a genetic counselor or your doctor about Schizophrenia tests."

Researchers have identified genetic errors, called de novo mutations, that are more frequent in schizophrenic patients than in normal individuals, and are present in schizophrenic patients but not in their parents.

Dr. Guy A. Rouleau of the University of Montreal led the research, which may enable researchers to define how the disease results from these mutations and eventually develop new treatments for it.

"The occurrence of de novo mutations, as observed in this study, may in part explain the high worldwide incidence of schizophrenia," says Dr. Rouleau.

Simon Girard, a student who performed key experiments in the research, added, "Most of the genes identified in this study have not been previously linked to schizophrenia, thereby providing new potential therapeutic targets.”

Dr. Rouleau’s team analyzed approximately 20,000 genes from each participant in the study, using modern DNA sequencing technologies to identify genetic changes in patients with schizophrenia whose parents showed no signs of the disease.

“Our results not only open the door to a better understanding of schizophrenia,” Dr. Rouleau said, "they also give us valuable information about the molecular mechanisms involved in human brain development and function.”

The discovery was published in July 2011 in the journal Nature Genetics.

Review Date: 
July 13, 2011